Paul describes immature Christians as babies who are still in need of spiritual milk (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Mature Christians eat solid food and “by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb. 5:14) They consistently use sound judgment in their daily lives.
A mature Christian recognizes they will never reach absolute, sinless perfection on earth, but this does not stop them from striving for perfection. They keep their eyes focused on the prize and the goal.
“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” (Philippians 3:15-17)
What is a mature Christian?
Those connected to the vine of Christ follow a distinct pattern based on God’s love and His Word. Motivated by the forgiveness already offered through Christ’s death and resurrection, a mature Christian responds by strenuously putting into practice the truth they have already come to know and understand. We are responsible for the truth we have currently attained and our lives will reveal itself in a Christ-like quality.
The Apostle Paul is encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ to follow his example. He fully realizes that it’s really not about him, but all about Christ in him. He knows the importance for young Christians to have role models like Timothy, Silas, and Luke. For this reason, Paul also writes about the mature characteristics church leaders need to exhibit in their lives.
Paul also talks about a pattern to follow for whom the church has already received. The Greek word used for “pattern” can mean “example” or “model.” We could say that Paul has given us a blueprint to follow. If you follow this blueprint closely, you will build a strong and sure foundation on which to build your house. If you stray from this blueprint and do not follow the directions closely, than your house will not be sturdy enough to withstand the storms of a sinful world.
The Greek word used for “pattern” can also mean a “mark” that comes as a result of a beating or injury. This same Greek word is used to describe the nail marks on Jesus’ hands when he showed them to his disciples (John 20:25).
It is Christ who wrote the blue print and followed it to perfection. The marks on his hand reminds us that it is only through Christ and his death on the cross is it even possible for us to build. He is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), and a stone we can trust and never be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). The promise given for us is that we are living stones that are being built into an acceptable spiritual house for which Christ dwells.
A mature Christian is one who dwells in a sturdy house with a strong foundation in Christ. The end result is a life that reflects the godly characteristics of one who knows that his shelter on earth is just temporary compared to what awaits him in heaven.